Obama Departs for Israel With Big Delegation for Peres Funeral

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The Times of Israel reports: President Barack Obama lifted off from Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland on Thursday en route to Israel to attend the state funeral Friday of former Israeli president Shimon Peres.

He stands at the head of a large delegation of American senators, representatives, top administration officials and diplomats. In total, 33 American dignitaries will be in Jerusalem to pay their final respects to Israel’s elder statesman, who died early Wednesday at the age of 93, some two weeks after suffering a massive stroke.

Obama is scheduled to arrive in Israel on Friday morning local time, shortly before the funeral, will deliver the final eulogy at the ceremony in Jerusalem’s Mount Herzl cemetery, and will leave immediately after the funeral, the White House said in a statement.

Obama and Peres enjoyed a close relationship, and the US president referred to his “friend Shimon” in his official statement of condolence on Wednesday.

“There are few people who we share this world with who change the course of human history, not just through their role in human events, but because they expand our moral imagination and force us to expect more of ourselves. My friend Shimon was one of those people,” Obama said.

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